Benito Mussolini (29 July 1883 - 28 April 1945) was an Italian dictator and the first of the fascist rulers of twentieth century Europe. His initial successes, although much debated and overstated, were destroyed by his disastrous alliance with Hitler and entry into World War II.
From a young age, Mussolini showed tendencies to violence. At school, he was expelled twice for violent incidents. On at least two occasions he stabbed adversaries with a penknife.
As an Italian politician he is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism. He became Italy’s youngest Prime Minister in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. After 1936, his official title was "His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire". Mussolini also held the military rank of First Marshal of the Empire, which gave him and King Victor Emmanuel III joint supreme control over the military of Italy.
Envisioning Italy’s return to the glory of ancient Rome, Mussolini became one of the main figures of the Axis powers. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of Axis. During 1939 to 1941, Italy invaded Albania and Greece. While the Albania occupation was successful, the Greek campaign ended in disastrous defeat of Italy, later reversed only with the intervention of the German army.
It is estimated that only about 400 political prisoners were put to death under Mussolini’s rule. War casualties tell a different story, however. An estimated 400,000 people were killed during Mussolini’s invasion and occupation of Ethiopia. World War II deaths included 450,000 Italians along with an unspecified number of casualties inflicted on the Allied Powers by Italian forces. Towards the end of the war, Italy began collaborating in the Nazi extermination program, turning over some 8,000 Italian Jews to German authorities for execution in death camps.
Mussolini was deposed and arrested upon the successful Allied invasion of Italy. Soon after his incarceration began, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German Special Forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape to Switzerland, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside-down at a petrol station for public viewing and abuse.
DATA: This is a special WWII set of 5 coins and 2 banknotes— issued in Italy under the regime of Benito Mussolini, in Albania during Mussolini’s occupation, and in Greece during the war with Mussolini’s forces. Monetary system s: 1 Italian lire = 100 centissimi; the Albanian Lek; the Greek Drachma (1 drachma = 100 lepta; plural: drachmai)
Coins issued by the Empire of Italy: KM77, 1 lire - stainless steel; 27 mm; 8.1g; issued 1939-1943; obv. King Victor Emanuel III / titles; rev. eagle / fasces KM76, 50 centissimi - stainless steel; 24 mm; 6.13 g; issued 1939-1943; obv. King Victor Emanuel III / titles; rev. eagle / fasces
Coins issued by the Empire of Italy for occupied Albania (SHQIPNI) KM28, .10 lek - brass; 22.7 mm; 4.9g; obv. King Victor Emanuel III / titles; rev. fasces / 2-headed eagle arms KM29, .20 lek - st. steel; 21.6 mm; 4 g; obv. uniformed, helmeted King Victor Emanue l III / titles; rev. fasces / 2-headed eagle arms KM30, .20 lek - st. steel; 24.1 mm; 6 g; obv. uniformed, helmeted King Victor Emanuel III / titles; rev. fasces / 2-headed eagle arms
Banknotes issued by Hellenic Rep. of Greece during war with Italy P-110, 1000 drachmai - 172 x 86 mm; issued 1939; obv. woman in national costume; rev. goddess Athena / Parthenon ruins P-117, 1000 drachmai - 167 x 85 mm; issued 1941; obv. coin of Alexander III; rev. Edessa Falls
Album open measures: 11” x 7.5” Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
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